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Spectacular Wealth

Spectacular Wealth
The Festivals of Colonial South American Mining Towns

Drawing on archival research, this illuminating study shows how residents of all ethnicities in three colonial boomtowns used festivals to redefine wealth and present themselves as more than subjects of European power.

December 2016
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237 pages | 6 x 9 | Hardcover has a printed case, no dust jacket | 5 b&w photos |

Bridging print culture and performance, Spectacular Wealth draws on eighteenth-century festival accounts to explore how colonial residents of the silver-mining town of Potosí, in the viceroyalty of Peru, and the gold-mining region of Minas Gerais, in Brazil, created rich festive cultures that refuted European allegations of barbarism and greed. In her examination of the festive participation of the towns’ diverse inhabitants, including those whose forced or slave labor produced the colonies’ mineral wealth, Lisa Voigt shows how Amerindians, Afro-descendants, Europeans, and creoles displayed their social capital and cultural practices in spectacular performances.

Tracing the multiple meanings and messages of civic festivals and religious feast days alike, Spectacular Wealth highlights the conflicting agendas at work in the organization, performance, and publication of festivals. Celebrants and writers in mining boomtowns presented themselves as far more than tributaries yielding mineral wealth to the Spanish and Portuguese empires, using festivals to redefine their reputations and to celebrate their cultural, spiritual, and intellectual wealth.

  • Introduction
  • Part 1: Texts
    • Chapter 1. In Praise of Follies: Creole Patriotism in the Festivals of Arzáns’s Historia de la Villa Imperial de Potosí
    • Chapter 2. Celebrating Minas Gerais in Triunfo Eucharistico and Aureo Throno Episcopal
  • Part 2: Celebrants
    • Chapter 3. Festive Natives in Potosí, from Audience to Performance
    • Chapter 4. “Nos Pretos como no Prelo”: Afro-Brazilians in Festivals, from Performance to Print
  • Conclusion: Spectacular Tributes
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index

Voigt is an associate professor of Spanish and Portuguese at the Ohio State University in Columbus. She is the author of Writing Captivity in the Early Modern Atlantic: Circulations of Knowledge and Authority in the Iberian and English Imperial Worlds, which received the Katherine Singer Kovacs Prize from the Modern Language Association.


“In this carefully researched and thoughtfully crafted book, Lisa Voigt makes a compelling case against José Antonio Maravall's argument that civic festivals were among the key practices used by church and crown to direct the culture of the Hispanic world during the Baroque period.”
Bulletin of the Comediantes

“[A] richly researched, methodologically original, and lucidly-written study of eighteenth-century Baroque festival culture in South America.”
Bulletin of Spanish Studies

Spectacular Wealth is an exceptionally well-documented and beautifully written book. In sum: a model of critical clarity.”
Renaissance Quarterly

Spectacular Wealth challenges us to analyze the multiplicity of the interventions and interpretations enacted in these festivals and to transcend the borders of any one empire on our scholarship.”
Hispanic American Historical Review

“A well-constructed and complex narrative...Voigt has succeeded in bringing together first-hand eighteenth-century festival accounts with secondary sources and theories on diverse aspects of culture in colonial South America into a seamless narrative.”
Portuguese Studies

“An important contribution to the discussion of race, religion, and wealth in colonial Latin America seen through festive cultural celebrations…Voigt does an outstanding job of truly integrating colonial Brazil in the examination of Spanish American colonial texts by looking at the important interconnections that exist among both.”
Revista de Estudios Hispánicos

“Compelling and provocative. . . . A beautifully elegant study that promises to add to an emerging body of literature on mining, economy, and wealth in Iberian empires. Voigt’s dual consideration of Potosí, in Spanish America, and Ouro Preto, in Brazil, is laudable.”
Anna More, Universidade de Brasília, author of Baroque Sovereignty: Carlos de Sigüenza y Góngora and the Creole Archive of Colonial Mexico


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This book may also be available on the following library platforms; check with your local library:
3M Cloud Library/bibliotheca
UPCC/Project Muse